Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Does A Single Woman Plan Her Future?

How Does a Single Woman Plan Her Future?
single woman

Beginning Note-

Dear Readers,

I hesitated to share this because of the brute honesty of the subject.  However, I wish I had been able to read something like this when I was eighteen; so that is why I bare my thoughts and soul to you.  It is hard for single women because we face so many unknowns, and although I strongly disapprove of feminism, I do believe that single women should be wise about their future.  I write this not to encourage solo independence or to make us feel as if we do not need or want marriage, but to make us stop and think about our plans and choices.  We do not have a husband to provide for us, and our parents may very well be nearing the age where we can no longer rely upon them but they rely upon us.  There’s a lot of harsh judgments passed about single women that say it is our fault in some way or another that we are single, but sometimes God just has different plans and timing for certain individuals.  May you be encouraged by this article.  Don’t forget- I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

How Does A Single Woman Plan Her Future?

“God, the joke’s over now, haha, very funny.  I mean, being single is great and all, but You do have a husband for me- right?”

So you are nearing your thirties, and quite possibly is this is how your prayers sound.  Reality is starting to hit that you really are single and by the looks of things, your relationship status will probably not be changing anytime in the near future.  The job that helped get you through college at 18 was fine for a while, but it has lost its appeal and holds no incentive.  Surely, you figured that by now marriage would have taken care of the future for you because a husband would have been responsible for the main income and provision…but there is no husband.

So, as singles, we’re left with three choices.  Choice One- Drop all our standards and grab the first guy we meet on the street (which isn’t recommended due to the probable outcome).  Choice Two- Complain about our situation and sit at home near our phone, door, computer, or wherever we think a guy may approach from to ask for our hand in marriage.  Or, Choice Three- Realize that if God is amazing enough to create a universe full of dancing galaxies, He is plenty capable of bringing someone in His own time but for now He has called us to singlehood for a special purpose.  I’ll admit, Choice Three really hit me hard when I knew I needed to break off a dating relationship last year, knowing fully that I probably wouldn’t be getting asked again very soon.  I mean, if it took twenty-five years for one guy to come along, another twenty-five years would put me at fifty.  That can be a little disheartening, and that’s a lot of life during which I have to make decisions and support myself.  Of course, I could get married next year, but then again, God may never have marriage in His plans for my life.  Once I am at peace with that, I can then move on and handle life and the future.

So what can we, single women, do to help take care of our future?
  • Face the facts.  It may startle you to realize that singlehood is wearing your name, but brute honesty is the best wake-up call.  I know some young ladies who are still living in denial of the fact that they are single and very well may continue that way for a while.  Thus, they really have no dreams, goals, or plans and simply exist from day to day.
  • Don’t let singlehood scare you.  I’ve heard many 16-18 year old girls talk about singlehood like it was a dreaded disease.  I like to think of it as an adventure, and I do dearly love adventures.  Instead of it being me, a husband, and God on this journey, right now it is just God and I.  That may seem a little daunting at first, especially when I can get lost in stores, have zero map-reading abilities, hate spiders, have a fear of elevators, start talking to myself when I get lonely, and get nervous when calling in a pizza for delivery.  But I try not to focus on what seems like limitations during this journey of singlehood, I focus on the blessings God has in store for me- things like a deepening faith, trust, and love because I only have Him to rely upon.  As Corrie ten Boom once said, “If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.”
  • Find a career, path, mission opportunity, or avenue you would enjoy pursuing for the next thirty-forty years.  Make sure it will be something you love and enjoy (but something that pays well too!).  Yes, I know, I didn’t make a very profitable choice when I pursued writing and teaching elementary music, but it truly is my love.  So find something that motivates you to get up in the morning.  Check into the job’s benefits and insurance/ retirement plans.  For a single woman, these are an excellent boost in her provisions.  If special education is needed, get started right away before you lose more time.  Find grants and scholarships that will help with costs.  Perhaps God has laid a certain dream or calling on your heart; start pursuing that.  If going into missions, draw out a plan for means to cover expenses while you are away and then also a plan for means of provision if and when you decide to return.
  • Be okay with changes to a nicely-arranged future.  God may decide to open some doors and shut others.  Ask Him to lead your life, and then keep your plans held out to Him with an open hand.
  • Find a nest.  At some point and time, you will probably feel a desire to create your own home and move your glass dishes out of Mom and Dad’s attic to use and display in your own space.  Don’t be scared to start looking at buying a home or renting an apartment.  Costs will vary, depending on your area, but a single woman doesn’t need a huge space.  The usual rule is- the smaller the place, the more affordable it is.  Try to find something close to the places that you commute to the most (work, church, parents, college….).  Finding responsible young ladies to rent a room or two in your house will also help cover costs.  If your parents need assistance or you don’t want to move right now, keep living with them; but be sure to pay “rent” and don’t be afraid to carve out your own spot.  When buying a home, keep in mind that there will be costs which may include property taxes and insurance; repairs and maintenance; utilities that could include sewer, water, heating, and electricity; lawn care; and pest control.  Regardless of whether you rent or own a home, there will be appliances and basics you need for daily living.  Those who get married are blessed with wedding gifts, but we will have to budget and supply our own “homey items” unless the apartment is already furnished.  Decide what is absolutely necessary to buy now and then get the convenience appliances later when your budget is prepared for it.  Some appliances to keep in mind are a washing machine and dryer (unless you decide to go to a laundromat), stove, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, blender, mixer, iron, vacuum cleaner….  Go ahead and write down any others you think of.  Take into consideration the common things we take for granted but often use like linens, towels, silverware, plates….  Furniture is not an emergency category, but it’s still nice to have a bedroom set, table with chairs, sofas, and storage cabinets once the budget allows (shopping at thrift stores and community aids is a great way to pick up cheap but nice items.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match and do your own design.  A little bit of paint, stain, and Pinterest ideas can turn a seemingly drab piece into a show item.).
  • Budget!  Set room in your budget for food and groceries; vehicle and health insurance; fuel; vehicle repairs and licensing; home mortgage or apartment rent; vehicle loan (if your car is not paid off); health money to be used for dentist, prescription medications, doctor, orthodontist, and chiropractor costs that may not be covered by insurance; clothing and personal essentials; phone and internet; pet food, care, and vet bills; gifts; home items; home costs; and tithe.  I also keep some set aside for travel money since that is dear to my heart.  Some of the above may or may not apply, and there may be things that you need to add in, but get it down on paper or find a good app and start budgeting.  However, no matter who you are, keep a nice amount of room in your budget for savings which can be used in cases of emergencies and then applied to retirement.
  • Surround yourself with mentors.  Keep people around who can give you advice and wisdom with decisions, plans, and finances.  Their older wisdom can be a true beacon of light as you navigate the overwhelming waters of independent adulthood.
  • Involve yourself in others.  When singles are only focused on themselves, they become bitter and selfish.  Help out at kids’ clubs, go on short mission projects, babysit your best friend’s children so she and her husband can have a date night, visit retirement homes and do activities with the residents, or volunteer at a hospital.  The opportunities are endless.  I don’t have a husband and children right now like my heart desires, but I do have family all around me in the hundreds of students and young ladies I teach and direct.  Make every day and every situation your mission field.  Savings is definitely not a bad thing, but it really has no value once life here is over.  The investments that truly matter will be the ones we made in others.
Questions?  Sure you do! 

Like- what if an interested guy sees I have a career and home and thinks I’m not interested in marriage?  Excellent point.  Your attitude and demeanor will be the biggest benefit or hindrance to your independence.  I have two very opposite single girlfriends.  They both are working women who have to provide for themselves but handle themselves and situations a lot differently.  Let me explain….Susy allows men to assist her in decision-making and tough tasks, while Jessica tackles it solo.  Susy stays gentle and doesn’t dominate every conversation and group decision, while Jessica is the first to call the crowd to action and conclusion.  Susy has time for teaching VBS, helping at the local soup kitchen, and babysitting the nieces and nephews, while Jessica is too busy creating her career and future to have any time for Kingdom Work and loving others.  Susy still up-builds the men around her and realizes that there are gentlemen in this world yet, while Jessica harbors bitterness at seemingly being rejected by the male gender and treats all men with disdain.  Jessica is determined to show the world that she can do it on her own and does not need help, while Susy is simply living fully where God has placed her. See the difference?  Some guys may still be intimidated by a woman’s attempts to provide for herself, but a true man will appreciate that she is not simply wasting time waiting around but is putting energy and heart into making the best of her life and blooming where God has planted her.

By going into full-time mission work, will I have eliminated any possibility of marriage?  No!  God can bring the man He has for you to the planet Jupiter if that is where you are at.  He is not limited by what we think are hindrances, especially when He is working with men and women whose hearts are fully focused upon Him.  Plus, a Christian man will know that by being involved in missions, you have developed patience, sacrificial love, flexibility, hard work, responsibility, and teamwork, which is exactly what a wife needs to make marriage a success.

Does owning a home and being financially independent make me bad “wife material”?  Having a good job or owning a home doesn’t disqualify us for marriage; in fact, it actually improves us.  Just like the Proverbs 31 woman, we can bring something profitable into marriage and have a savings account instead of only a shoe collection.  Remember that marriage and raising a family is quite costly!

Isn’t it pointless to go through college and build a career if I will be getting married and having kids eventually?  A lot of women have used their career experiences to bring in extra money while still being a stay-at-home mom.  Some moms have done that by using the teaching degree to tutor students over the summer, utilizing the photography experience by setting up a photo studio in the shed behind the house for photo sessions, applying the craft-store job experience to a personal Etsy shop, or putting to use the secretary skills by doing a company’s paperwork from a home computer.  As a writer and music teacher, I can continue writing and giving private music lessons if I would ever get married and have children.  With creativity and a little flexibility, most careers can be still beneficial to a stay-at-home mom.  Even if the career experience isn’t used during marriage, it will have benefited in other ways by teaching us responsibility, hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment…all things that we want to pass on to our children!

It is important to look ahead with the honest understanding that God may not bring marriage into our lives for a while.  But don’t let all the costs and decisions frighten and alarm you about the future.  And definitely, don’t let it sidetrack you from the real reason you were put on earth- to glorify the King.  God is our Guide, Provider, and Bridegroom, and He wants the very best for each one of His lovely brides.

Blessings my dear single ladies as you truly live the journey!  (Isaiah 30:21)

Miss MarJanita L. G.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

When Miracles Don’t Arrive

When Miracles Don’t Arrive

There’s one thing that some people may not understand- and that is that we really have little control over what happens.  Oh yes, our decisions and choices affect a lot of outcomes, but there are some things we just do not have any means to control.  We didn’t choose for lightning to burn our barns down or ask for cancer to visit our homes, but it happens nonetheless.  Really, the only thing we control is how we face the turmoils when they come.

If you’re like me, it may feel like almost every area of your life has been facing some sort of crisis.
After awhile, you have lost control over everything.  Things have been pulled away and other events have been happening that make you shiver to think of what could be the outcome if no miracles arrive.

People around you expect strength, cheer, and wisdom, and all you have to offer is emotionally drained and life-weary hands and heart.

Every night you wonder how much more you can possibly handle and dread what the next day may hold.  You cry and pour your heart out to God because He is the only One with enough power to help, but there is silence.

You wait for miracles, but none arrive.  Days pass, weeks vanish into time, and months fade into history, but things only worsen.

You look around at others and their seemingly glorious lives and wonder why they are blessed- even though you have lived faithfully to God’s will and standards and they haven’t.  You mimic David in Psalm 73 and say,
Surely God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
    Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children.
And then it happens, that deep unsettling of everything you firmly believed.  No matter how guilty you feel for thinking the thoughts, they come anyway.  The questions that people once asked you, now are your questions- even though you used to proclaim the answers.

Where is God?
Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?
Why won’t He help?
Does God hate me?

This makes you uneasy, because surely these are the questions only reprobates and rebels ask.
However, most people who face tragedy or turmoil will have some if not all of these questions run through their heads, no matter how devote or famous of a Christian they may be.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons God sends trials.  Praise from a person who smilingly believes in a personal God because they have always received everything they wanted and have hands full of blessings won’t mean as much as the praise that comes from a person who believes in a personal God even though they have empty hands and can’t seem to see or feel Him as they walk through their darkest valleys.

As I write, I know there will be those who criticize because this surely doesn’t align with the popular “health and wealth gospel”, but I write in brutal honesty from my own experiences.  I hesitated because some won’t understand the questioning, the complete loneliness, the lack of control in life’s circumstances, and the months of waiting for miracles that don’t arrive, but I knew there are others who have walked and are walking on similar journeys; so I share this for those worn-out pilgrims.

What have I found?

I know from the pulls in the depths of my soul, from the intrinsic splendor of the world and universe, and from the recordings of history that there is most certainly a God.

I know from looking back at past miracles and experiences and times when I saw the Hand of God that He really does love every single one of His children.

I know that having earthly blessings and miracles doesn’t make one person more special than another in His eyes because Jesus said that as His children we would face hard times.

I know that the miracles I look for haven’t come, but I have been given the miracles of salvation and eternal life, a loving family, and a new day to use for God’s glory.

I know that life may very well collapse around me, but that doesn’t change the fact that God is in control and has the best in mind for me, whether to accomplish His greater will, test my belief in Him, show His true glory, or to speak to someone who is watching.  Satan loves to watch me doubt and has pretty high bets that I will succumb to the giants that I face, but God is on my side and I can rest in that fact no matter what happens.

Job the Old Testament man, martyrs, and the most profound hymn writers realized all that matters is God and His perfect will.  Things won’t make sense now, but they will some day.
Do you know that Psalm 73 didn’t end with, “All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.”?  Here’s the rest of one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible….
When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.

As I write this, nothing has changed in my situations, I still don’t have any control of what is happening, my “miracles” haven’t arrived yet, and I don’t have a clue what is going to happen in the future, but I will tell of the deeds that God has done in my heart because He is Goodness, Wisdom, Love, Refuge, Strength for my failing heart, and Holder of my right hand!

“Never-Ending Power of My Love”
-MarJanita L. G.

Pushed against the edge
Of a deep engulfing cliff.
Rocks begin to tumble,
And feet begin to slip.

Downward, downward starts the fall
Until fingers grab a limb.
Branch breaks, heart goes numb,
And hope is dark and dim.

Splash upon the water
Which are footwear to the cliff.
Swimming, swimming, but the current
Knocks a punch and fights to win.

Sinking, gargling, gasping air
While time stands stern and still
To watch the battle underneath
Of exhausted, ebbing will.

Lips move to cry for help,
But no noise or sound is heard.
Alone, forgotten, forsaken-
Tears are empty and prayers are blurred.

Eyes close as depths keep pulling
To a lonely darkened cell.
No escape, no way out
From the underwater hell.

Strong arms are grabbing,
Reaching into murky water,
Pulling the body up to shore,
Working to rescue the drowning Daughter.

Once safely placed upon the shore,
Heart broken and clothes wet,
With bitter words she begins to say,
“I’ve been faithful, how could you forget?

Why didn’t you help me
When I called on Your name?
When I cried out for help,
You never came.”

He looks in her eyes
and wipes away tears,
“If only you knew
I’ve loved you thousands of years.”

He shows the scars upon his hands,
The blood where rocks had ripped the skin,
The water dripping from his clothes,
And the aching muscles there within.

Then He takes her small frail hand
And places it upon His heart
To feel the hurt that beat within
As He had watched her fall apart.

“My child,always remember-
Hardships- life consists of
Since it’s the only way to show
The never-ending power of My Love.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Journey Home

Just a poem for your day.....

She's on a journey, a journey Home,
Each day she travels on life's long hard road.
Sometimes it's dark and fears close in,
But she knows she must not let them win.
At times the fog covers up the day,
But with her Compass she won't lose her way.
The stones have bruised her weary feet,
And scars tell stories of the battles she meets.
When doors are locked and there seems no way
And sunny skies have turned to gray,
With nowhere to turn, she falls to her knees,
And then in her hand she finds a key.
"How can you continue?" some say with a frown,
"How do you get up when you've fallen down?"
Softly she replies with tears in her eyes,
Wishing they knew that to live one must die,
"Because I hold to an Unseen Hand
Who gently carries me through the roughest lands.
That Hand brings me light
As I pass through dark night,
And It gives me bread
During famine's worst spread.
When I feel overwhelmed and forever alone,
It sends glimpses and letters from Home,
And reminds me that all confusion will clear,
And the end of the journey
Will be worth every tear."  - M.L. Geigley

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascending Home

Ascending Home

By the middle of May, it seems that Easter was a long time ago.  But what we may have forgotten, is that the “Easter” story is not over.

I am always touched on Good Friday as I remember the agonizing way Jesus gave up His life to take my place.  I celebrate on Easter Sunday that He conquered death, because without that, we would have no hope for life.

But there’s a part of the story that is not finished, the part that leaves me speechless with excitement. 

That’s the part of the story that I am celebrating today.  I’m closing down work and calling it a holiday today because that is what it truly is.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent a few weeks on earth spending time with those He loved and giving final encouragement and instructions to His disciples.  And then He ascended.  He left this pathetic earth to go back Home.

But the best part is- He didn’t forget about us.  The reason He went Home was to prepare welcome-home banners, blow up balloons, and get all ready for when He brings us Home too.
He didn’t ascend into Heaven to get away from us- quite the contrary.  He ascended to “prepare a place for us that where He is, there we may be also.”

Okay, if reading that didn’t want to make you jump up and down, try reading it again.  “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

My brother and I recently watched a movie called “The City of Ember”; although it was a strange movie, he pulled a beautiful analogy from it which I just had to share.  Without going into lengthy detail, I’ll try to explain the movie quickly.

People from earth had decided to make an underground world for people to live in so they would never have to know about our wars and unrest up here.  It would be a perfect place.

Well, the Law of Entropy still applied, even hundreds of feet under the ground, and the underground city started falling apart two-hundred years later.  Through a slightly heart-pounding race against time, two teenagers managed to find a way to escape back up to earth so they would not die with the collapse of their world.

When they reached earth, it was dark because it was nighttime.  The teenagers from the underground figured that earth was no different from the world in which they had lived.

But then morning burst forth.  Never before had they set eyes upon sky and sunrises and the beauty which surrounded them.  They could have not even begun to imagine what it would be like because their imagination was limited to the context of the world they had known.

We are the same way.  Our imaginations can only spin off of what we have seen or heard on this earth.  I’m pretty sure that it is safe to say that Heaven is gonna knock our socks off.  Jesus has been working on it for about two-thousand years (that’s some major renovating going on).  And He’s doing it because He just can’t wait until it’s time for Him to say to us, “Come Home!  I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I ascended on the first Ascension Day.  This is the reason I allowed myself to be crucified.  This is the reason I conquered death.  And now, everything is finally made right.  Welcome Home, my Beautiful Bride!”

May you have a beautiful Ascension Day getting a little Homesick and celebrating the fact that one day, you will finally be able to ascend Home too.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Our Sons and Daughters

Our Sons and Daughters

Do you ever have those days when you start dissecting your life and your future?  You know, those kinds of days when you feel as if you have your own personal thundercloud hanging over your head?

Well, that was me.

I was contemplating my value to this world and started to become melancholy at the results.  And after the pinch of melancholyness (yup, that’s not actually a word), came a twinge of envy.  I was just a little bit jealous of friends my age who have cuddly babies and mischievous toddlers.  And yes, the mother dealing with postpartum depression, wailing infants, and crayon marks on walls is thinking, “You’re completely insane.  Come take my place for a day and you’ll learn what it’s really like!”  No, I was not envious of the messy diapers and late nights, but I was thinking about those tiny feet, little giggles, and sticky kisses.  I was feeling a bit worthless and like I hadn’t achieved to some greater maturity and specialness because I’m single and am not raising, teaching, and loving a child with the same last name as me.  I was comparing myself to that ever-perfect Proverbs woman whose children arise and call her blessed.  Here I am, just plain me, who at this point will have no one to call my own or pass my legacy on to when I am eighty years old.  I feel embarrassed saying this because we, singles, don’t like to admit our feelings on this subject.  I feel really embarrassed admitting this because I am not very old, a lot of things can change in my future, I truly love every minute of my singleness (I’ve been able to do amazing things that I couldn’t have done otherwise), and being vulnerable with my feelings is plain down embarrassing because not everyone will understand.  But I share this to encourage others who may be facing the same thoughts in this stage of their lives.  Motherhood is a usual desire amongst most single females (despite the pain, selflessness, commitment, and frustrations that we realize go along with having and raising children) because it’s a maternal longing that God gave us.

Then God stopped me right there in the middle of my negativity.  God had to do this for Elijah and he still has to do it for us humans today.  Anyways, He brought to my attention the verse, Isaiah 56:3-5 (KJV) “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.   For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”

The eunuchs could not have children and were one of the lowest on the social scale.  Because they had no offspring, they could not leave a name or heritage behind, but God hadn’t neglected them. 

First, notice the conditions in the verse- keep the Sabbath, choose the things that please God, and take hold of the Lord’s Covenant.  Then notice the promises- being given a place and name better than of sons and daughters within God’s house and walls and being given a name which will not be cut off.  Isn’t that beautiful!  Perhaps I shouldn’t pull out this solitary set of verses and try to apply it to singles, but I think it fits well and can hold a lot of meaning for us.
But that Still Small Voice wasn’t finished talking yet and began to awake me to the fact that I do have children and I will leave a heritage behind when earth’s departure flight comes for me.

Let me explain- My children are the hundreds of little lives which have entwined themselves around my heart through camps, choirs, classes, etc…  To them I have given tears, love, lessons, and prayers.   Every time we hold a Sunday-School Class, become a counselor at camps, teach a classroom of students, hang out with the nieces and nephews, help with VBS’s, support and sponsor orphans, and take the time to impact the life of a child, God has given us sons and daughters.

I was recently at the Meadows of Hope Banquet, and this thought kept coming to my mind as I watched the single young ladies with the girls they are mentoring and helping.  Those girls may not have the same last name or physical resemblances as the women who care for them, but that won’t make any difference when they are walking streets of gold.  Those women may not have physically birthed them, but they have birthed hope, courage, faith, and trust in the girls’ lives.  Because those young ladies are single and childless, they won’t be celebrated on Mother’s Day; but nevertheless, they do have “children” who arise and call them blessed.  Their heritage left behind will tell of countless lives who loved them and viewed them as a second mother.

We, singles, have many opportunities to help “raise” the children around us.  Don’t view your babysitting job or weekly kids’ clubs as unimportant, but use the “parenthood” God has given you to dry tears, apply band-aids, feed hungry tummies, break-up quarrels, teach valuable lessons, and impact little lives for eternity– which really is no different than any actual mother or father would do for their children.  And one day when we look across Heaven and see the faces of our “sons and daughters”- the children we taught and loved, we will realize that we truly do have an everlasting name and heritage!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Musings and Ponderings

Musings and Ponderings

I just had the opportunity to attend the C.L.P. Artists/Writers’ Conference once again.  The workshops were excellent and have given me much to ponder and consider.  Here are a few of the many lessons I learned or relearned.

1.  Too often, I’m afraid what comes from my keyboard or pen is more about me than about my Father.  “He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30 ESV

2.  I am humbled once again by how much I have to learn in the art of writing.  I blush as I reread what I have written two years ago and even a year ago.  And hopefully when I look back to today on April 13, 2016, I will shake my head in slight embarrassment at my poor sentence structure and boring words because I have learned and developed better writing skills and structure since then.  Even if I live to 108 years old, there will always be more to learn and perfect when it comes to writing!

3.  I want to honor and serve you, the reader, more.  I don’t want to waste your time or give you something worthless to read.  After God, you are the most important part of the written word because you are the one who reads it!

4.  Not being able to keep a journal doesn’t automatically disqualify me from being a writer.  May I insert a *sigh of relief* here.  I have lots of journals, but if you would look through them, you would find scattered entries which range from weeks to months apart.  You would find poems and scribbled drawings instead of organized daily events and emotions.  You would find prayers to God, which would probably make you doubt my sanity at some points.  But you would not find a neat journal which is so often associated with a writer, and that’s okay.

5.  Sometimes I take the reasons I write for granted, but I have been reminded of them once again.  I write because I would explode if I couldn’t.  I write because my heart yearns to share the love of God.  I write because of the thrill that comes from putting words down unto paper and bringing to life stories and characters with their own unique personalities, adventures, and lessons to learn.

6.  Yes, writing is easier than talking.  And I have found kindred spirits who can identify with that.  Wouldn’t life be smoother sometimes if we could write to one another instead of speaking?!  At least it would be for me when my tongue becomes tangled and my mind can’t seem to force the right words from my lips!

7.  I am on the search for a good writers’ group.  Any suggestions or volunteers?  I’m looking for a support group which can give each other honest criticism and help proofread each others’ works.

8.  It will be fun to play around with some antithesis, polyptoton, synesthesia, and hyperbaton techniques in my personal writings=)

9.  Editors are amazing people, and after sitting in the workshop, “Working with your Editor”, my admiration has only deepened.  Even though their notes and manuscript changes may seem intimidating at times, they are such an asset to the written word and are working diligently to better the writing and the writer to produce something valuable for the reader.

10.  I sometimes grow lazy and am not very diligent about watching for writing errors.  Time to refresh myself on the grammar rules and stop using the ellipsis improperly;)

11.  And last but not least, I enjoyed these quotes which were scattered throughout the handouts.
  • “The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.” – Henry Green
  • “My commodity as a writer, whatever I’m writing about, is me.  And your commodity is you.  Don’t alter your voice to fit your subject.  Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on the page.”  – William Zinsser
  • “Don’t say, ‘The old lady screamed.’  Bring her on, and let her scream.” – Mark Twain
  • “Description should begin in the writer’s imagination but finish in the reader’s.” – Stephen King
  • “What you want is practice, practice, practice.  It doesn’t matter what we write so long as we write continually as well as we can.  I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.” – C.S. Lewis
  • “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention…. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got.”  – Steven Pressfield
  • “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Why I Don’t Do The Diet Thing

Why I Don’t Do The Diet Thing

There seems to always be a new diet out there.  I have seen good results from friends who follow the meal guidelines and recipes from some of the more popular ones, but for those who were wondering, these are the reasons I don’t diet.

1.  Although eating right makes a huge difference in one’s health, I fear that this often takes the place of exercise.  It should not be one or the other, it should be a combination.  Although following certain food rules is easier than doing single-arm burpees and squat jumps and seems to profit just as well because there is weight loss, our bodies are being neglected if we fail to incorporate exercise into our daily regime.  I am a personal testimony to this fact.  I exercised for about three years, almost every day, six days a week; but lately took a break because my allergies have been draining all my energy.  I finally started to gain some control over my allergies and started back on my workouts again.  Even though I was careful of what I ate over my non-exercise time, but body majorly declined.  By exercising again, the scales is dropping, I’m starting to see tone once more in my muscles, my mood has dramatically increased and depression decreased, energy has mounted, endurance lengthened, blood sugar leveled, and my heart and lungs are happier than ever.  For me, exercise has helped my health in ways that eating properly could never do on its own.

2.  I can’t justify buying expensive food products (which most diets call for) when I can make just as healthy of food by using ingredients that are able to be obtained within my budget.  All it takes is a little food knowledge and creativity, not expensive and hard to get items.

3.  Everything that I have tried from popular healthy-eating plans and diets have been (how can I say this nicely?- not very tasty or fulfilling).  I have come to the conclusion that I will do five-hundred jumping jacks before putting another piece of skinny chocolate in my mouth.  Those five-hundred jumping jacks will allow me at least one piece of delicious Dove dark chocolate.  By exercising, I can eat the yummy stuff (like actual chocolate, cheese, and milk) once in awhile that I couldn’t have otherwise.  No offense, but I think most people can make just as healthy of food on their own that is much yummier than the recipes in the diet books.  It is nice though to have a healthy recipe to go off of when cooking, but feel free to spice it up a little with some fresh herbs or veggies!

4.  Often diets call for a person to give up one part of the nutritional triangle.  Do not completely eliminate your dairy, proteins, veggies, and healthy fats.  For example- I have heard of diet plans that call for a total avoidance of dairy, but I have worked in a retirement home and seen the effects of osteoporosis.  Use control in your eating habits, but don’t keep your body from getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

5.  Diets leave one depleted of energy because they usually don’t allow enough calories for physical labor.  There’s a difference between hunger and weakness.  It’s okay to be hungry, but not to be so weak that your daily functions suffer.  Make sure that you don’t overeat, but also make sure that you consume enough of the good calories to make it through the day and give your best to your work and family.

6.  It would be nearly impossible to do any diet plans in this family.  The men would refuse to follow, and since they work hard and burn most of the calories they eat, I think they deserve a plate of meat, vegetables, and potatoes.  And frankly, I don’t have the time to make a separate menu for myself, so I just control the portion I eat of the yummy hearty yet healthy food that the entire family is eating.  We also work most evenings and have to grab food on the go; so I simply pick the healthy items when we go to restaurants.

7.  Diets are technically not very healthy for the body, and you will usually gain back even more weight after coming off of a diet because your body goes into an emergency i’m-not-gonna-starve mode and starts to store your calories.  That’s why I prefer a continual lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise which actually burns your calories and turns them into muscle.

8.  Diets simply focus on what the scales and tape measures say.  Yes, I want to lose weight, but I also want to prevent things like high cholesterol and diabetes while building heart and lung strength, muscle, and endurance.  That can only be done through a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise.
Living a physically healthy life is a journey.  Don’t spend a ton of money buying diet books and pills and then rely on them to decide your eating habits.  Learn what is healthy and what isn’t and then create your own menus.  Add a little herb and fresh fruits and veggies, and I guarantee your meals will be much tastier.  Make healthy eating and exercise fun and creative!  Don’t view exercise and healthy eating as something you have to do but as a gateway to a happier, healthier you!